Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 (Bill C-45)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, it is a real privilege to ask a question to the member. The constitutional questions have not had enough attention in this debate at second reading on Bill C-45. When I look back at Bill C-38, I think we also missed some of the key ones. However, in the Fisheries Act changes in Bill C-38, as egregious as they were, they did not, with a sweep of the pen, say that 98% of the waterways in this country are no longer going to be covered under the navigation head of power found in the Constitution.

Has my friend considered that this act is actually unconstitutional in retreating from 98% of the responsibilities to ensure that Canadians have the right to navigate? This was enshrined as a federal head of power. How can the Conservatives unilaterally walk away from it, knowing that under the exclusivity principles of the constitutional law it would be illegal for another level of government to step in to fill the void?

Francis Scarpaleggia: Mr. Speaker, it is a very interesting point. There was an article in Le Devoir last week about how there are laws at the provincial level, for example in Quebec, to protect the interests of boaters and so on, but in fact constitutionally they do not have the same authority. It is disturbing when a government takes away rights for Canadians that were established at the very beginning of Confederation without having any kind of public debate, other than on a budget bill.

I think this is a problem. I will leave it up to those who are more knowledgeable about the law than I am to delve into this issue, but it obviously merits discussion.